Pumpkin, Oktoberfest brews already available
Fall craft beers appear to be taking a page out of the Christmas playbook, showing up in stores seemingly earlier and earlier each year.
Just a couple days into September, these seasonal beers of the pumpkin and Oktoberfest variety are already flying off the shelves or out of the tap at shops and taverns across New Jersey.
At Bootleggers Liquor Outlet in Northfield, manager Ken York said the first pumpkin brews arrived in late July, and so did the customers.
"Anything pumpkin and Oktoberfest flies," York said. "Get them when you see them because there's no guarantee they'll be there tomorrow."
And that's the truth in many cases. Suppliers don't blindly produce beer, cross their fingers and hope for the best. They create what they know will sell so they're not left with pallets of fall beer in early December.
Ramstein Oktoberfest is the "biggest seasonal" brew for High Point Brewing Company in Butler. The rich amber lager is only available on draft in the tri-state area through October.
"It's the longest seasonal we do and it's the biggest we do for sure in terms of volume," said founder Greg Zaccardi.
Zaccardi suggested fall brews arrive earlier each year because suppliers are eager to be the first ones on the market, hopefully grabbing shoppers' attention and keeping them as customers throughout the season.
And the fall beer hysteria is not only evident at retail establishments and bars. It's also a big reason for business at The Brewer's Apprentice in Freehold, where folks brew their own beer on-site.
Owner JoEllen Ford said this is the heaviest brew season for her shop, assisted by three of their own fall recipes, including a pumpkin pie stout.
"I can't keep the pumpkin in stock," she said. "It becomes hard to even get an appointment in here on certain days, certain times."
Their second best-seller all year is an Oktoberfest recipe.